In the memoir Almost American Girl, we follow the story of Robin Ha, a Korean immigrant who tries to adapt to new life in America. The book starts by giving us some context about her life in Korea, that life was far from perfect because she was born out of wedlock and her mother and father split after she was born. This family background caused her to face harassment while growing up, including from her elementary teacher who would punish her much harsher than anyone else in her class, her schoolmates, other adults, and even her great grandparents who, because of her birth, disowned Ha's mother, their granddaughter. However, despite these challenges, she was able to have a good life, or what she thought was a good life. She had her friends, her comics, and her favorite foods, and overall was happy. When coming to America, she is forced to face a different set of challenges ranging from a language barrier, bullying, and even feelings of disdain towards her mother who "ruined" her life. However, through the memoir, she comes to realize what Korea was like and why her mother brought her to America. Although this memoir is about Robin Ha, I would like to talk about her mother, Ms. Shin.
We do not get much information about Ms. Shin till chapter 8. Until then, Robin gave us no sort of insight into her mother's thought process. However, once we get to chapter 8, we begin to learn more about Ms. Shin and the rough life she had. Both of her parents died while she was only a teenager; she had to split from Ha's father, was disowned by her grandparents, struggled financially in both Korea and America, had to deal with an American stepfamily who still believed in Korean traditionalism. She endured all of this to give Robin a better life and the opportunity to be her own person. To me, this is the most thought-provoking portion of the memoir because every single decision Ms. Shin made affected Robin's life. Much like Robin, I can relate to becoming so focused on my own life that when my parents make a change for the better, I see more of the negatives than positives, and I end up lashing out because of it, forgetting that my parents have gone through far worse circumstances.
I can resonate with this book because of how I have grown and come to realize a lot of the sacrifices my mother made for not only me, but my two younger siblings. The older we get the more we come face to face with the truth of what our parents have done for us to give us an opportunity to have a better life. That is exactly what Ms. Shin did for Robin. This is an important takeaway that we can use as a reminder to be considerate and try and make the best out of any adversity we may face.